Introduction to The Law School Bible
| Many books have been written on the topic of nontraditional or alternative education but few have focused on the opportunity to utilize these methods to obtain a professional law degree. Rare is the person who has not heard of such things as correspondence courses, home study or distance learning, however, many persons are not quite sure how to maximize the advantages provided by alternative education. It is ironic that the explosive growth experienced by the industry has itself caused much of the apprehension and confusion that prevents potential lawyers from reaching their academic and career goals. It is the sheer number of choices of schools and academic programs that has caused many to be caught up in this mysterious system, often not knowing which way to turn for help.
This book takes the mystery out of alternative legal education and removes many of the risks that result from poor planning and misinformation. For example, a number of alternative and distance-learning law programs boast of being “accredited.” At one point in time this claim may have had some real meaning, however, today there are literally thousands of so-called accrediting agencies world-wide. Many of these agencies are valid in their own limited fields of influence, but quite a large number of them are self-serving and, for most purposes, worthless. I have heard many horror stories from people who have spent four years or more working toward a law degree only to learn that the degree will not be acceptable to employers or professional bar associations. Sadly, the education they received may have, in fact, been outstanding, but it is nonetheless useless for the purposes intended—to practice law.
All of the law-degree programs listed in this book have one thing in common, they are alternative programs. That is, they are not traditional in that you will generally NOT be required to take standardized entrance examinations such as the LSAT to gain admission to them.
Most programs will, however, require that you have met some minimum educational requirements or specific coursework prior to being accepted into the program, all of which can also be acquired non traditionally. The beauty of taking the alternative route to your professional law degree is that you will not be shut out by quotas or other artificial barriers that have excluded so many potential lawyers—perhaps even you— from achieving the dream of becoming a lawyer.
Interestingly enough, the programs and strategies outlined in this book are only considered nontraditional from a U.S. perspective. As you will learn, distance learning law-degree programs are actually quite common and highly respected in other common law countries throughout the world. You will also learn that the strategies presented here are made possible because the United States follows the common law of England, as does Canada, Australia, Ireland, and most Caribbean and many Asian and African nations— and, of course, the United Kingdom. U.S. case law is still derived from and, to some extent, tied directly to England, and, American courts rely heavily on past and present English case law. English courts also cite American cases with great regularity. It is this strong nexus, this common and “globally” accepted common-law legal system that makes the strategies of this book possible.
Law students, whether they are studying in the United States, England, Canada, Australia, the Caribbean and most of the current and former commonwealth nations, will, with few exceptions, study the exact same legal principles. Yes, that’s right, aside from some distinctions in procedure and constitutional differences, law students in these countries will study nearly identical course material. Furthermore, if you choose, you need never leave your own hometown to study at a foreign law school because foreign law schools have had well respected and accredited distance-learning programs for nearly two centuries. However, don’t be misled by the seemingly open-door policy of the alternative law-degree programs, all are extremely demanding to say the very least. These alternatives provide you with an opportunity to prove that you can make it—but making it is entirely up to you.
You should be aware from the very beginning that you will have to make changes in your life and dedicate a good deal of time for your studies. Family support will be vital to your success. You will be required to work very hard and, when you think you’ve been pushed to your limits, you will have to give some more. Cast aside any illusions that this is a shortcut to becoming a lawyer; it is nothing of the kind.
To become a lawyer you must undertake a demanding, thorough, and complete course of study.
THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS—BUT THERE ARE OTHER ROADS!
If you think about it for a moment, I’m sure you’ll agree that your professional education should be demanding, thorough and complete. Would you want to be represented by a lawyer with substandard training, treated by an incompetent doctor or have your tax planning done by a bungling CPA? Of course not, that is why I have only selected law programs that are accredited, registered or approved by recognized professional or academic bodies. In short, if you came here looking for a bogus diploma to hang on your wall or to impress your friends with, you came to the wrong place. Here, you will be asked to roll up your sleeves, dust off the old gray matter and get ready to take a journey. Your journey will be demanding but if you persevere your success will be most rewarding. You can achieve your dream of being a lawyer.
If you think you have what it takes to become a lawyer and you are not afraid to work hard to prove it, you can fulfill your dreams of becoming a lawyer through alternative legal education.
How To Use This Book
This book was written to serve as a directory and comprehensive guide to alternative legal education. Although various methods of nontraditional legal education have been around for close to 200 years, in recent decades they have been cast into the nether regions where only those fortunate enough to stumble upon them by chance or find them by diligent investigation have been able to benefit from them. The vast majority of the population, particularly in the United States, has never been exposed to alternative pathways to becoming a lawyer.
If this is your first exposure to alternative legal education, I strongly recommend that you read this book in its entirety. Take your time and get a flavor for the breadth of this topic and the many strategies available to you. Once you have done this, then go back and focus on those chapters that offer the strategies and options that appeal to you and best fit your particular circumstances. Make full use of the school directories. The directories were placed in this book to provide a complete repository of nearly every (if not every) non-American Bar Association school in the United States and law schools of every major common law country in the world. No other book or directory (online or offload) has ever assembled all of these resources in one place single place.
If you’re already familiar with alternative legal education, this book will serve as a valued resource. You can use The Law School Bible as your personal reference book. It will provide you with valuable contacts for law schools, bar associations, tutorial programs and, as a guide for the “rules of the game.”